Nothing is better than a retired FBI agent turning to writing fiction for his next career. Bob Hamer’s Targets Down is published by Broadman & Holman’s imprint Fidelis Books and delivers the authenticity a reader expects from a former undercover agent.
The cocky but accomplished Matt Hogan works undercover for the FBI, and when the wife of a fellow agent has car trouble on a quiet road and is beaten, shot, and left for dead but survives, Matt’s instructed to find out who and why. This assignment takes him to a Russian-owned and operated strip club where the young performers service men in various ways. Determined to discover how the Russian gangster-capitalist Boris operates, Matt gains his favor through the cousin of a meth-head who happens to be one of Boris’ henchmen.
More than once Matt’s cover is almost blown and the operation seems always to be hampered by the woman he dubs the “Queen Mother”, the Special Agent in Charge of the Terrorism Division of the Los Angeles Field Office of the FBI. Woefully inexperienced in the perils of undercover work, she constantly makes everything more difficult and treacherous than it already is.
The ruthless Boris and his equally sadistic inner circle who favor neo-Nazism dispose of anyone who causes Boris problems or dissatisfaction while Boris exploits the needs of those who will pay a lot of money for what they want, including terrorists. Matt’s quick thinking keeps him safe when his cover is threatened, and because Boris can use him, he seems willing to accept Matt’s explanations.
Bob connects the seemingly loose threads in this novel concerning Caitlin, Matt’s wife who is an elementary teacher and a woman of faith, and a Russian illegal immigrant, making his way through the dangerous Sonora desert to Los Angeles to find Boris, in a satisfying manner.
Bob’s use of dialogue and Matt’s asides work well to establish both the character and intensity of Matt’s work, portraying the undercover agent as fully aware of the challenge involved in not slipping too deep into the cover personality while trying to shake it off to be the loving husband he is at home. If there’s a weakness, it might be a couple of extraneous predictable and improbable plot elements but none that really disengage the reader from the overall story.
This novel illustrates the complexities and constant dangers involved in undercover work at this level. More of a suspense novel than a thriller Targets Down works for readers who enjoy procedural FBI stories with a solid but flawed hero who’s a bit of a rebel when it comes to ridiculous rules: my kinda guy! I think Bob Hamer will improve with every new book he writes.
Reviewed by Genre: Nicole Petrino-Salter
Publication Date: June 2011
Advanced reader’s copy provided by B&H
This entry was posted on Thursday, May 12th, 2011 at 5:00 am and is filed under Book Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
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